MCN’S 20 QUESTIONS
‘I crashed my KS125 and hid in a bush. I looked like a fool’ Herve Poncheral, Motogp team boss p19
Q1. What are you riding?
Since it was first produced in 2001, I’ve had a different T-max every year. I feel so good with it – it’s the only love story in my life that’s never stopped and one that I think never will.
Q2. Which living motorcyclist do you most admire?
In Motogp Marc Marquez has impressed me since he joined in 125s. What he did in Moto2 was unreal: starting from last and winning races, winning the world championship as a rookie, and 10 out of 10 rounds. They’re incredible achievements. I love watching him ride. He’s a great ambassador too, because he’s always happy and smiling.
Q3. What’s your worst riding habit?
Riding too fast. The older I get the more I tell myself I’ve nothing to prove any more and that life is more important than anything else – then when I get on a bike I completely disconnect again.
Q4. If you could have one riding super skill, what would it be?
Riding fast without crashing or having a problem with the police.
Q5. What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone on a bike?
About 300kph on an R1 on a track. But for me top speed is less impressive than acceleration. The best feeling is acceleration, when the bike is pushing and it wants to wheelie.
Q6. When were you last scared on a bike?
The last time I rode my T-max.
Q7. How many miles have you done in the last year?
Maybe 5000 kilometres – not so much because the Motogp teams are travelling a lot. But I cannot imagine going on holiday with a car – for me a car is purely a tool. I am lucky enough to live in the south of France, which has lots of sunshine and winding roads, so I can always choose two wheels.
Q8. What’s the highest mileage you’ve covered in one day?
In 1984 I set out from Honda France in Paris, when I was working for them, with a VF750S and rode to the Jarama Grand Prix in central Spain. That was 1700 kilometres in one day, though I’m not a fan of that kind of riding. I prefer to ride, stop and look at the scenery.
Q9. What irritates you most on a bike?
Rain. You have to be careful when it’s wet and I’d rather ride with a free spirit.
Q10. You’ve got two weeks off: where are you going?
Corsica. I love it there, and it means a lot to me. It has the kind of roads that I like, and it’s full of small villages where you can stop and have a drink.
Q11. Got one pearl of wisdom for new riders?
Don’t let the adrenaline be the boss of you. Always remember that to ride a bike you need to be healthy and have two arms and two legs.
Q12. Ever fallen off in a car park (or somewhere equally embarrassing)?
I wanted to impress all the girls arriving at school, and there was a very fast corner just before the gates. I was on a Kawasaki KS125, and flat out when I lost the front and crashed in front of everyone. It was so painful, I was scratched everywhere. When everyone came to see if I was OK I hid in a bush. I looked like a fool.
Q13. Do you have one indispensable item of kit?
I’m not a good example because I ride in a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops, which is stupid. I always have my helmet though – I can’t ride without it and I never would. Sunglasses, too.
Q14. Which four people would you invite on a Sunday blast?
My friends. I’ve ridden with my brothers and close friends for many years, and it’s with them I feel the best. My job is one where you need to dress and behave and look a certain way, but there are two Herve Poncherals. I don’t want my private life to be public and I don’t mix them.
Q15. Do you have a tool you couldn’t live without?
I’m a bad mechanic, which is why I have a T-max because they’re reliable! The best tool I always carry is a swimming suit and goggles, because if you’re near the river or the beach at the sea, I can always jump in.
Q16. Do you adjust your suspension?
No, because I’m not looking for performance. I like to ride quite fast, but I cope with the bike like it is.
Q16. Which of your old bikes would you buy back?
Easy, my old Kawasaki H2 750.
Q18. What bike would you never buy?
A sportsbike. They’re the opposite of what I want. I don’t want that bar position, and I’ve told you I’m too fast. A sportsbike would push me to go even faster and I’d lose my licence.
Q19. Which road (or track) would you build on your desert island?
It would be an enduro stage. I like riding off road, even at my level.
Q20. If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass?
Be happy! Respect each other more, stand against racism, against all kinds of hatred.
‘My favourite tool is a swimsuit and a pair of goggles!’
Herve prefers to be in the slow group looking fast Goofing around with Dek Crutchlow back in the day